Salary of CIA Special Agents


The goal of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents is to help protect the national security of the U.S. The Clandestine Service, or special agent division within the CIA, works on the frontlines to obtain information about international developments that requires agents to be highly intelligent, responsible and self-reliant. The CIA states that National Clandestine Service officers often live overseas and have a variety of personal experiences and backgrounds.

Core Collector

Earning an annual salary of $52,976 to $81,204 as of 2010, core collectors and collection management officers (CMOs) gather and evaluate intelligence information for the CIA. These individuals seek information that is important to U.S. policymakers and make the efforts to gather the data needed. Core collectors who wish to be part of the Clandestine Service (CST) Program must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree and be no older than 35 years of age. The CIA states that the ideal CST officer applicants are those who have extensive work, business or military experience and are interested in international affairs. The most desirable candidates are those who lived abroad, speak a foreign language fluently and are able work alone or as part of a team. All CIA applicants must pass a series of interviews, including a polygraph interview, a background check and a psychological and medical investigation.

Staff Operations Officer and Targeting Officer

Staff operations officers (SOOs) and targeting officers (SOO-Ts) earn an annual salary of $58,511 to $81,204, as of 2010. Agents in these departments carryout intelligence operations in dangerous environments outside of the U.S. Responsibilities of SOOs and SOO-Ts include carrying out counterintelligence missions and covert assignments, as well as supporting operations to collect information. These professionals have a high level of expertise in different geographic regions so that they can help conduct strategic investigations in order to protect national security. Applicants interested in becoming an SOO or SOO-T should have experience with combat arms or special military operations, foreign travel experience, know a foreign language and have combat service experience. Additionally, ideal candidates are those who have at least a bachelor’s degree and an interest in foreign affairs.

Paramilitary Operations Officers

Paramilitary operations officers are CIA agents who work in potentially dangerous environments and use their military or technical skills and experience in maritime, aviation or psychological warfare. These officers seek intelligence by developing relationships with individuals who can provide the data sought. The CIA states that operations officers must have “street sense,” the ability to deal with highly stressful situations, be quick thinkers and work well in unstructured situations. Ideal paramilitary operations officers are individuals who have experience in combat arms or military experience, combat leadership experience and a bachelor’s degree. The CIA states that it may waive its age requirement for those who are over the age of 35 on a case-by-case basis for ideal applicants seeking a position as a paramilitary operations officer.

Language Officers

Language officers earned an annual income of $51,630 to $94,837 in 2010. However, the CIA states that those who have advanced language skills before working at this agency may receive a hiring bonus and “language use payments.” Language officers provide translation and interpretation services for clandestine operations. These professionals have in-depth knowledge about cultures and provide support services to field collectors. The CIA states the ideal language officer fluently speaks English, as well as Russian, Arabic, Korean, Dari, Persian/Farsi and/or Pashto as well as a native language. Applicants should also have a bachelor’s degree, an interest in international affairs and possess strong communication skills.

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